AS the Socialist party prepares for a dramatic showdown over Pedro Sanchez’s heavily criticised leadership, a familiar face from southern Spain may be the one to take over the national reins and put almost one year of political deadlock to rest.
Susana Diaz, president of Andalucia, commands sizeable support within the party and is emerging as a heavy favourite to succeed Sanchez and become the first woman to lead a major Spanish political party.
The 41-year-old daughter of a plumber from Seville is leading a group of 17 rebels who resigned en masse from the Socialist’s executive committee in protest over Sanchez’s apparent determination to take the country to a third election.
Diaz is considered a more pragmatic leader who could reach across the aisle and also command more public sympathy as a relative outsider looking to break up the stifling ‘men’s club’ that has dominated Spanish politics for decades.
She has, however, committed herself to following the lead of the party’s grassroots, which remain largely supportive of Sanchez and steadfastly opposed to enabling acting prime minister Mariano Rajoy and his party to secure power.